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lethal dose Overdose fears narcotics sold on dark web used to lace letters and parcels sent to prisoners

Users whose drugs tolerance levels have dropped after months with no supplies are prone to accidently taking a lethal dose.

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HIGH-potency narcotics sold on the Dark Web disguised as nasal sprays are being used to lace letters and parcels sent to prisoners.

And there are fears the scarcity of drugs behind bars because of Covid-19 restrictions could see a spate of overdoses if a batch gets through.

Users whose drugs tolerance levels have dropped after months with no supplies are prone to accidently taking a lethal dose.

Portable scanners installed in Irish prison last year can detect trace levels of drugs and have been used to discover hundreds of drug-laced items among prisoners’ postage.

The substances include fentanyl, the opioid which has triggered an epidemic of overdose deaths in the United States.

Another drug of choice is W18, like fentanyl, which is a synthetically-made opioid drug that copies the effects of heroin, according to Sunday World sources.

The Irish Prison Service introduced the scanners last summer as Covid-19 saw a total ban on face-to-face visits forcing inmates to find new ways to have drugs smuggled inside.

Sniffer dogs are effective in finding ‘traditional’ drugs such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis, but are unable to detect the new generation of opioids.

“The total number of illicit drugs identified from our drug detection machines for 2020 was 395,” said an IPS spokesman this week.

“An increase in drugs found in post, parcels, and prisoner clothing has also increased as a result of visits being suspended.”

“Advancements in our drug detection technology has proved particularly effective in identifying drugs that are sprayed onto letters, newspapers, and other prisoner property,” he added.

Prison authorities are aware the pandemic lockdown and restrictions both inside and outside has seen a big drop in supplies which actually increases the risk of overdose.

“As tolerance levels had decreased significantly during lockdown, any resumption to pre-lockdown levels of use carried a major risk of overdose or indeed fatality,” said the spokesman.

The IPS has run a campaign in the prisons through adverts broadcast via cell TVs, as well as a leaflet drops, posters and direct contact with staff and counsellors warning of the danger.

Prison staff are already trained to deal with suspected overdoses and to make sure prisoners get emergency medical treatment.

“We continue to research and explore new methodologies and technologies and constantly review our processes in this regard,” added the spokesman.

The drug scanners will continue to be used when normal visiting starts again and can be used to detect if there are trace levels of drugs on a visitor’s clothes.

In cases where someone is detected as having a positive result they will only be allowed to go ahead with a screened visit instead of face-to-face.



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